Follow TV Tropes


Recap / The Simpsons S 8 E 3 The Homer They Fall

Go To

Original air date: 11/10/1996

Production code: 4F03

After Bart gets mugged for his Star Trek belt by Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney, Homer confronts their fathers and gets beat up as well — but ends up scaring them when he takes all of their punches and doesn't react, prompting Moe the bartender to train Homer to be a boxer.


  • Amusing Injuries: Notably averted, unlike nearly every other time Homer suffers physical pain. The injuries Homer sustains in his fight against Tatum are not cartoonishly exaggerated, and they are not Played for Laughs. He's shown suffering a very realistic concussion within seconds, and is in very real danger of getting killed.
  • And This Is for...: While beating up Homer, the dads of the bullies say it's for things like telling them how to raise their kids, or "the crummy life" they've had to live.
  • Ascended Extra: Drederick Tatum had appeared infrequently before this episode in short scenes, but this episode makes him into a major player.
  • As Himself: Michael Buffer, doing his legendary "Let's get ready to RUUUUUUUUUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLE!" opening at the Drederick Tatum match.
  • Author Appeal: Writer Jonathan Collier is a huge boxing fan.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After the match between Homer and Tatum is officially announced, we see Tatum and Lucius fielding questions about the upcoming fight in what appears to be a press conference, only for the end of the scene to reveal that it was a parole hearing.
    • When Moe flies into the arena and rescues Homer from the finishing blow, the announcer warmly says, "Ladies and gentlemen...", indicating that he's pleased with these events. But then he finishes the sentence: "...Whatever dignity remained in boxing is literally flying out the window."
  • Behind the Black: Neither the announcer, nor Tatum, nor anyone in the audience on all sides of them reacts to Moe putting on "the Fan Guy"'s paramotor and flying into the ring until the moment he appears on camera pulling Homer to safety.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Moe does this twice for Homer. First, saving him from Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney's dads with a shotgun, and later, flying him out of the ring before Drederick Tatum can KO him.
  • The Boxing Episode: Moe coaches Homer into becoming a boxer after Homer is found to have an anomaly that allows him to take multiple hits without falling.
  • Call-Back:
    • Drederick Tatum and Lucius Sweet previously appeared in the boxing match Homer saw by stealing cable in "Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment".
    • The chalkboard gag, "I am not my long-lost twin" may be one to "Treehouse of Horror VII", where it was revealed Bart had essentially been masquerading as his former conjoined twin Hugo, whose existence was long kept hidden. Given the production overlap between the two episodes, though, it may be coincidental.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: While on the run from the bullies, Bart presses the utility belt's "Emergency" button. It gives off a siren (telling the bullies his location) and shoots off a flare which parachutes to the ground with the words "Need Help Call Police" on the 'chute. When the bullies run up to him Bart says "Can't you read? Call the police!"
  • Casting Gag: Lucius Sweet is voiced by Paul Winfield, who previously played the real Don King in the 1995 biopic Tyson.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • Homer pulling this off while being attacked by the bullies' parents is what inspires Moe to train him a a boxer.
    • Shortly after their fight begins, Drederick chooses to insult Homer by taking time out to talk about a restaurant with Charlie Sheen.
  • Continuity Nod: Above the boxing ring there is an advertisement for the Assassin shoes.
  • Couch Gag: The couch sits in the middle of a desert; and the family, in western attire, sit on the couch, which gallops into the sunset.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Homer's fight with Tatum turns out to be very one-sided.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The montage of Homer as a boxer after his first fight, set to choral music.
  • Double Take: After Bart is beat up, he slogs into the kitchen looking bruised. Homer says, "Lookin' good, son", but then realizes something's off and addresses him again:
  • The Dreaded: Tatum is so feared, that he's able to quell a prison riot just by telling everyone to quiet down in his soft voice.
  • Driven to Suicide: Discussed in-universe, when Tatum is so sure he's gonna kill Homer in their match he expects the grief will drive Marge to kill herself.
  • Epic Fail:
    • When Moe has Homer punch a pad to test his strength, Homer can't even harm the fly caught between the glove and the pad. And the sheer exertion on that exhausts him so much he can't stand up again.
    • In just the first 5 seconds of his fight against Drederick Tatum, Homer gets severely beaten (despite this, he put up the best fight out of any of Tatum's opponents by virtue of not getting knocked out on the first punch).
    • When Marge screams to Homer that Tatum isn’t going to get tired and he needs to hit him back, Homer strengthens his resolve and throws a full strength knockout punch. However, it was wimpy and slow, which Tatum effortlessly dodges and counterpunches Homer to the point he lost consciousness standing up.
  • Expy Coexistence: Homer lampshades the trope by pointing out the similarities between fictional boxing manager Lucius Sweet and real boxing manager Don King. To confuse the issue further, Lucius Sweet is voiced by Paul Winfield, who played Don King in the TV movie Tyson.
  • Fantasy Twist: When Moe tells Homer to visualize his chances of winning the fight against Tatum, Homer imagines himself being declared the winner as a consequence of Tatum having a heart attack right before the beginning of the fight.
  • Free-Range Children: After Tatum throws his first punch at Homer, the camera pans to Bart and Lisa in the audience commenting on the fight, seemingly sitting by themselves. This is subverted when Marge (and Maggie) pop(s) up from behind a girder.
  • Geek Physiques: Comic Book Guy attempts to return a Star Trek belt he won as a prize because it was sized medium, and "the average Trekker has no use for a medium-sized belt".
  • Generation Xerox: Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney all look like their fathers (though Kearney's father should be older if Kearney is established to be Older Than He Looks — unless it's the same with Kearney's father), only Dolph's dad has an eyepatch over one eye instead of his hair.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: As the end credits show, Moe seems to have a lot of adventures which are never fully documented.
  • Improvised Weapon: In Moe's, Kearney's dad whacks Homer in the head with a pool cue and it snaps, before remarking that Homer won't fall down.
  • Injury Bookend: Parodied when Bart advises Homer to "just make sure he hits you an even number of times so you don't end up with amnesia."
  • Isn't It Ironic?: At Homer and Drederick Tatum's boxing match, Tatum is introduced with Redman's "Time 4 Some Acksion", while Homer is introduced with War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?", which is an anti-war/anti-violence song.
  • Just in Time: Homer is spared a beating from Dr. Hibbert:
    Hibbert: Your brain is cushioned by a layer of fluid one eighth of an inch thicker than normal. It's almost as if you're wearing a football helmet inside your own head. Why, I could wallop you all day with this surgical two-by-four without ever knocking you down. (looks ready to hit Homer in the head) But, I have other appointments. (laughs)
  • Karma Houdini: As usual, Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney get off scot-free for beating up Bart and stealing his utility belt, Homer contacting their parents only leads them to beat him up instead.
  • Lack of Empathy: Tatum is sure he's going to kill Homer in the ring, and during a live press conference he adds that he expects Marge is gonna kill herself out of grief which will leave Bart, Lisa, and Maggie orphans.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Homer is excited to learn that Moe's boxing career was promoted by Lucius Sweet, who is "as famous and successful as Don King, and looks just like him too!"
  • Made of Iron: Played for Laughs. It's revealed that Homer was born with an unusually thick skull and has an extra layer of protective fluid around his brain, so he can take severe, repeated blows to the head without suffering any real damage. Unfortunately, this fails as he faces heavyweight champion Drederick Tatum.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Real nice of Dr. Hibbert to explain that Homer has a concussion-proof skull, but why did he feel it was a good idea to try to whale on Homer with a two-by-four to prove it (even if he never does because he was expecting another appointment)?
  • Mundane Luxury: Homer uses his money that he wins from boxing on different types of car washes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Tatum's robe has the name "Mr. Armageddon" written on the back.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: As Homer is getting pounded by Tatum, Marge is yelling that he has to fight back because he's not going to tire down. So Homer takes a swing at Tatum... and utterly fails to hit him.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!: Homer tries to stop the discussion about his impending fight against Tatum this way when Lisa reveals that Vegas odds have Homer winning at a thousand to one.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lampshaded. Homer notes that Lucius Sweet looks like and sounds like Don King. Paul Winfield, who plays Lucius, had previously played Don King in an HBO movie. And Drederick Tatum is an obvious parody of Mike Tyson. Also, the Fan Man is a parody of James Miller.
    Homer: He's as rich and famous as Don King, and looks exactly like him, too!
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: What Tatum provides to Homer. In the space of ten seconds of the first round, he's concussed him so badly that everybody else fears Tatum is going to kill him. The advertisement before that makes no secret that Tatum can deliver such a feat, with the main ad being Homer's head exploding when Tatum hits it.
  • No-Sell: Thanks to a rare medical anomaly that renders Homer near-invulnerable to knockout punches. Since he has weak boxing skills, Moe advises Homer to absorb everything these boxers can throw at him and let them wear themselves out before Homer simply uses a weak punch or a push to beat his opponents. The trope flies completely out the window when it quickly becomes clear the fearsome Drederick Tatum is far stronger and more capable of punishing Homer than any of his opponents.
  • Not So Invincible After All: When Homer faced off against homeless guys, he earned a reputation of invincibility as his thicker-than-average skull prevented him from receiving any real damage when he got punched in the face, and just pushed his opponents down when they got tired. Lucius Sweet then convinces Moe to have Homer fight Tatum, as he may be the only one to stand a chance for an exciting fight. Unsurprisingly, fighting malnourished homeless boxers was absolutely nothing compared to the experienced, well-trained, physically fit, heavyweight champion Tatum, who gave Homer a serious concussion seconds into the fight, and would have beaten him to death had Moe not intervened.
  • Pun-Based Title: On the phrase "(the bigger they are,) the harder they fall".
  • Red Baron: Tatum's coat when he enters the climactic boxing match proudly labels him as "Mr. Armageddon". Parodied with Homer - his own coat only reads "Opponent", he never gets a nickname as a boxer, and the commenters' label of him as an "immovable object" is brutally defied by Tatum.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In 1995, Mike Tyson's first comeback fight after his release from prison was against Peter McNeeley, a little known club fighter who had built up an impressive record against undistinguished opposition. McNeeley was knocked down twice in the opening round and the fight was stopped shortly afterwards when his manager entered the ring to prevent him taking further punishment.
    • Also, the device Moe uses to save Homer is the paraglider used by James Miller, commonly known to boxing fans as "The Fan Man". Miller was seen flying around Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas during the second of what would be three bouts between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. He eventually crashed the paraglider into the ring and was assaulted by fans who were angry at him for interrupting the match, and a delay ensued while his paraglider was removed from the area.
  • Rule of Three: Lucius Sweet wants a boxer who can withstand at least three rounds against Tatum.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Moe ultimately gets Homer out of the match just before Tatum gets to KO him, much to the anger of everyone, especially Lucius Sweet, though he still receives his check for $100,000 for the fight.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Homer hasn't heard of Drederick Tatum, but he had in the season 2 episode "Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment": Tatum was in the big fight Homer and most of Springfield watched on his illegal cable. Also, Homer watched Drederick Tatum knock out The Supine Swede during the 1984 Olympics on the season four episode, "Lisa's First Word"note .
    • Moe says he turned the tavern's women's bathroom into an office because "We hadn't had no ladies here since 1979", though several episodes have had women in Moe's Tavern, including "Flaming Moe's" (when his bar becomes popular due to Homer's drink idea) as well as "Bart Sells His Soul" (when Moe turned his bar into a family restaurant).
    • Homer is shown to have no punching ability or stamina, yet he fought (and very nearly won against) the much younger and more athletic Tom from Bigger Brothers in an earlier episode.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The boxing montage spoofs a similar montage in Raging Bull. One of Homer's wins in the montage resembles the George Bellows painting "Dempsey and Firpo".
    • Towards the end, Lucius tells Moe "You'll always be a loser".
  • Solemn Ending Theme: In place of the fast-paced Simpsons credits theme is the emotional "People".
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Even with his ability to resist pain and take a beating, Homer stands absolutely no chance against a trained professional boxer like Tatum, due to Homer not having any real training or anywhere near a healthy diet, and is nearly knocked unconscious or beaten to death in the first round. Moe even points out when the idea is first suggested that Homer has no chance against Tatum, and after the match Homer is badly concussed. Even Homer's attempt at a dramatic turnaround punch fails, because it turns out that resolve and determination won't save you when you're nowhere near as skilled as your opponent.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Moe still receives a $100,000 check despite stopping the fight prematurely.
  • Take That!: The sign outside Homer and Tatum's match proclaims "tasteful clothing not permitted" and, sure enough, there are scores of people waiting outside dressed in tacky clothes (some of which look more suited for pimps and prostitutes).
  • Teeth Flying: Homer gets one of his teeth knocked out during his disastrous fight with Drederick Tatum. Bart gives him one he found, but after trying to put it in Homer says that it isn't his.
  • This Just In!: Parodied by Kent Brockman when he gets pelted with rubbish and abuse by the audience.
    Kent Brockman: This just in- GO TO HELL!
  • Tranquil Fury: Parodied: Tatum puts a stop to a prison riot (to the point where the prisoners retreat to their cells and even the guards apologize) merely by telling them to shut up (since it was distracting him from his Jello). In the press ring before the match, he also very calmly says that he has no beef with Homer, but he's going to turn his children into orphans (Homer he'll kill himself, Marge will suffer Death by Despair).
  • Trivially Obvious: During his boxing career, Moe was initially known as "Kid Gorgeous," then "Kid Presentable," then "Kid Gruesome," and finally "Kid Moe."
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Used to describe the boxing bout between Homer (who has been discovered to have a reinforced brain case and is theoretically knockout-proof) and returning heavyweight champion Drederick Tatum. Ultimately, this trope is defied — Tatum is capable of punching so hard that Homer is on the verge of being knocked out (or even getting pummeled to death) within ten seconds of the first round starting.
  • Victory by Endurance: All of Homer's victories as a boxer. He can't win unless his opponents become too tired to resist someone who can't even harm a fly caught between the glove and a pad.
  • Weighted Gloves: Homer sees that Moe has a boxing glove with barbed wire on it which Moe refers to as "The Stinger". Moe says "yeah, they don't let you use that no more."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The writers admit that they never resolved the "Bart loses his utility belt" storyline.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Moe discovers that Homer has the perfect head for boxing because it turns out he has an extra quarter inch of shock absorption fluid around his brain, making him impervious to headshots. However, Homer has zero stamina in the ring — he gets winded after throwing one punch. Moe decides that Homer's strategy should be to let his opponent tire himself out punching Homer, then when he's exhausted Homer just kind of shoves his opponent down, "knocking" him out. Which is almost nothing.
  • The Worst Seat in the House: Marge's seat for Homer's fight against Drederick Tatum is directly behind a pillar. Then again, she probably didn't want to watch the inevitable beatdown Homer was going to get.